News / Africa

Breaking Tradition: Men in Malawi Fight Gender-Based Violence

Malawian women walk past empty grain silos in the capital Lilongwe.
Malawian women walk past empty grain silos in the capital Lilongwe.
Lameck Masina
The Malawian non-government organization (NGO), Men for Gender Equality Now, is challenging the male stereotype by working to end violence against women. They are focusing on men as the agents of change.

Men in Malawi have been considered part of the problem of violence against women because of cultural attitudes that assume male superiority. The NGO's national chairperson Marcel Chisi said their recent studies indicate that 85 percent of gender based violence in Malawi is done by men towards women and girls.  

“When we look at the statistics, men are mentioned many times as being perpetrators of violence and not necessarily part of the solution," Chisi said. "And it’s high time we don’t just point at men as a problem because there are many men of good will who don’t abuse women and therefore [we thought that ] ‘why don’t we take advantage of some of men who are good ambassadors and work with them to transform their fellow men."

Husband school

Chisi said one of his group’s core activities is what is known as ‘husband’s school’ where young and old men are taught how to become responsible fathers and how they can take care of a family.

“It is drawn from women’s groupings like in bridal showers, kitchen top-ups and wardrobe top-ups where they share family practices. But yet when a young man is going into marriage, he is not told anything," explained Chisi. "What it means is that many young men have gone into marriages without necessarily knowing what to do in there.”

Chisi said his group boasts a membership of about 50,000 men across the country. They also work to address a number of other issues which were previously regarded as the female domain like the role of men in HIV prevention, child rearing and men’s responsibilities in the reproductive rights of women.

“On this we are saying: what is the role of men in deciding how many children a women would have in a family? Because normally some women have no say in their families and if men are not [at] a level of empowerment where they can negotiate at how many children they have, then we will have a man who will be bringing in so many children even they know they can’t take care of them,” Chisi noted.
 
The problem of gender violence here is well documented. In 2006, Marietta Samuel, 33, a mother of three children in the central district of Dowa, had her arms cut off by her former husband, Herbert Samuel, in an attack fueled by jealousy.  Her husband was sentenced to a 15 years in jail.

Recently a local newspaper reported that police in the central district of Kasungu arrested a man for slicing his wife’s private parts for refusing to have sex with him in the afternoon.

Despite legal action, the problems persist and that is why Chisi’s group thinks a new approach is needed to prevent the problem rather than just punish it.

Women’s groups, like Maxwell Kaliati’s Centre for Alternatives for Victimized Women, applaud Men for Gender Equality Now. “For us we have seen that this is a very important section because sometimes when you use women’s groups people think that we are being [biased]," Kaliati stated. "But when they [men] are seeing fellows doing the activities, they feel encouraged and think that this is a real case for us to change our behavior.”

Changing attitudes

And some women say it is making a real difference in their lives. Rhoda Mankhwala, a resident of Mbayani Township in Blantyre, said her husband is a different man since he attended one of the meetings organized by the NGO.

“My husband is now a changed person unlike in the past when he used to beat me up for no valid reasons," Mankhwala explained. "He would beat me up for coming late from the market even in the presence of my friends. But when he attended one of the meetings organized by the grouping there is indeed a change”.

Besides Malawi, a similar initiative is being implemented in other African countries including Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia.

You May Like

Video Obama to Send 3,000 Troops to Liberia in Ebola Fight

At Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, President says US will take leadership role for a global response to deadly Ebola virus that is ravaging West Africa More

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

Muslims in Kunming say that they condemn the violence, it is not a reflection of the true beliefs of their faith More

Humanitarian Aid, Equipment Blocked in Cameroon

Move is seen as a developing supply crisis in West Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Spacei
X
September 17, 2014 4:20 AM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid